The initial exhilaration of falling dissipated quickly. Panic rose in her throat and she tried to turn herself and see what she was falling towards. She was no longer safe within her home, she was out of her element. She reached out with her hands but didn’t find anything. Craning her neck, she was able to spy a shimmer in the air beside her. As she hurtled past it she frantically lashed out with her frail fingers. She caught hold of a fine, unyielding cord. With every ounce of strength, which wasn’t much, the woman wrapped her hands and arms around the cord and clung to it for dear life. To her great dismay she kept sliding down it’s length. She tilted her head back and saw it stretched for an eternity into the bright sky. Shifting she turned her gaze downward and saw that at the end of its length loomed an enormous globe.
The impact was imminent and all she could do was squeeze her eyes shut. When she landed, with a jolt that she was sure left her with a broken tailbone, the globe thrummed. She made the mistake of standing and letting go of the rope to rub her sore backside. Her feet couldn’t find purchase on the polished surface of the globe and soon the uncoordinated woman had slipped and was sliding down the sloped face. She turned over to her stomach and groped for a hand hold, but found nothing. Just when she thought she was going to fall off the edge of this new planet and into the void once more, space seemed to open up beneath her and she fell into the globe.
She opened her eyes to find she was falling towards a pile of scrolls. Raising her hands as quickly as she could to protect her face she smashed into it and tumbled in an ungraceful somersault onto a rough, brown floor. It took a while for her to regain her bearings. Until she did she lay in stunned silence on the floor. Slowly her surroundings began to focus again. Something blurry shuffled into her view. Slowly it cleared and she frowned. It was a pair of dirty, bare feet. With a groan she rolled from her side onto her back and frowned up at a frumpy looking man. He stared at her with wide eyes and when she moved he squeaked and scurried away.
Realizing this was her first encounter with another being, the little woman froze. Then slowly she rose to her hands and knees and looked for the man. At first she didn’t see anything but scrolls, and boxlike objects stuffed with thousands of pieces of paper, piled in all directions. But then a pair of hazel eyes peeked around a tall pile of books. When she saw them she couldn’t help but smile. The little man squeaked again, jumped, and retreated through an arch and down a dark passage. With a sad frown the woman lifted herself to her feet and cautiously analyzed her surroundings. She didn’t like the idea of falling again. Yet she was confused and not content to see only a little part of this new world. Obviously there was more to life than she had been aware of. But what should she do now?
Her eyes wandered to where the little man had disappeared, but she thought of how unwilling he had been to interact with her. She shrugged, she would leave the poor creature alone. Instead she turned to stare up at the hole she had fallen through. Leading up to it was two long pieces of wood, connected by evenly spaced perpendicular pieces. A ladder. The word came to mind as she stared at it, how she knew what is was she couldn’t recall, but she knew without a doubt that a ladder was what it was.
Walking up to it she cautiously placed a foot on the first rung, then holding on to the rung in front of her face she pulled herself up. She climbed to the top and slowly peeked over the edge. Her eye brows shot up when she realized that projecting from the edge of the globe was a platform. She raised her head up and glanced both directions. As far as she could tell the platform ran around the whole circumference. She pursed her lips and pulled herself onto the roughhewn platform. Inching forward she took hold of the railing and peered over. Down beneath her a great grey chasm yawned. She gulped, thankful she hadn’t fallen all the way down. The ground below did not look very forgiving.
She turned and followed the platform around the globe. Dispersed evenly were openings in the rails and translucent wires with baskets hanging from them stretched out and up. She followed their distance with her eyes and watched as they disappeared towards other orbs hanging in the air above her. She tried to find the one that would take her home but all of them looked the same from where she stood. And there was a sensation down in her chest that fluttered angrily whenever she considered returning to the place of nothing but scrolls and light during the day, and then lonely darkness at night. She tore her eyes away from the zip lines and ignored them as she followed the platform. Soon she came across stairs, they led her down to another tier of the platform and she continued to walk its length. Then, not long after, she came across a large doorway. She peered into it and surmised that this was probably the passageway the mousey man had disappeared into.
Not caring to enter back into the globe the woman turned her attention to another set of stairs. These stairs led away from the globe and down. She leaned over the railing and saw that they bent back on themselves a couple of times until they ended at the grey floor beneath her. Beside the stairs, though, hung a basket. The cord it hung on ran through a hole in the floor and dropped straight down. With weary eyes she glanced at the stairs, and then back to the basket. Her feet and legs ached from all the walking, and her tailbone throbbed. Hesitantly she stepped up to the basket and climbed in.
She kneeled on the floor and saw a funny depiction of a little man pulling on the chain that hung in the center of the basket. From the caricature she deduced that pulling this chain would make the basket move down. She grabbed the links, but no matter the weight she put behind her effort, it wouldn’t budge. She fell and banged against a large lever in the floor. She analyzed the picture beside this and noticed that it depicted the basket going down. Perhaps the chain was for moving up, and the lever for moving down. Shrugging she grabbed hold of the lever and gave a tug. It didn’t budge. Pursing her lips in frustration she strengthened her grip, braced her feet on either side and pulled with all her might. It still didn’t move. As she was straining against it she noticed a bright red button on top of the handle. Without a thought as to its purpose she placed a thumb on it and pushed. Just like that the lever released. She flew back against the edge of the basket, landing again on her bruised buttocks.
With no time to recover from her spill, the woman’s heart flew up into her mouth as the basket dropped. She scrambled into a corner and wrapped her arms around her knees as she realized she was falling again. Only this time she knew what was beneath her. She was plummeting towards the stone-gray unforgiving ground.